(DES MOINES, Iowa) - Today, Governor Kim Reynolds announced additional support for child care providers across the state of Iowa including increased Child Care Assistance (CCA) rates, stipends to accelerate COVID recovery efforts, and enhancements to programs promoting educational opportunities for child care providers. This additional assistance will be critical for child care providers as the Governor's Child Care Task Force continues to review and develop policy recommendations in advance of the 2022 legislative session.

"Access to affordable child care is critical to Iowa's sustained economic recovery from COVID-19," said Gov. Reynolds. "Keeping child care open during the COVID-19 pandemic was a central component to our targeted and balanced approach, and now through the Child Care Task Force we are working to ensure that quality child care remains available for working families across the state. As the Task Force continues its important work, we are announcing today interim steps to support our child care providers, and in turn, the children and families they serve."

In an effort to further the State of Iowa's support for child care workers' pursuit of higher education, the Department of Human Services (DHS) will expand the T.E.A.C.H. and Child Care WAGE$ program statewide through Fiscal Year 2022. T.E.A.C.H. is a comprehensive scholarship program that provides education opportunities to the early childhood workforce. With a proven record of reducing turnover, the WAGE$ program provides education-based salary supplements to the early care and education workforce.

To support those providers accepting federal Child Care Assistance, DHS has completed an updated 2020 Market Rate Survey, resulting in increased rates effective July 1, 2021. Currently, providers are being paid at a 2017 rate, and it is imperative that rates are increased to reflect the current market.

Lastly, DHS will continue to pay providers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic monthly stipends and unlimited absent days for CCA until August 31, 2021. Supporting child care providers through the summer will continue to stabilize child care for working families as Iowa continues on our recovery from COVID-19.

"Our child care providers worked throughout the pandemic as a vital support to our larger workforce - even as others shifted to remote options. I am proud to offer child care providers continued support as they fulfill their critical role of caring for Iowa's children and preparing them for the future," said Director Kelly Garcia.

On March 10, 2021, Governor Kim Reynolds signed Executive Order 8, launching a new Child Care Task Force to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the child care shortage and barrier to work in Iowa. The task force, representing business, non-profit and community organizations, providers and local government, has been working vigorously and will complete their 100-day challenge in July 2021.